Haverford School’s Alex Boratto swims in the 100 butterfly at the 2014 Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Championships at La Salle University.
Haverford School's Alex Boratto swims in the 100 butterfly at the 2014 Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Championships at La Salle University. Boratto, an eighth-grader, finished sixth with a speedy 53.42. (Eric Hartline)

PHILADELPHIA — It's not always easy to tell when Josh Owsiany is ecstatic. For the Episcopal Academy junior, an ear-to-ear grin is as much a requirement for a session on the board as a speedo and shammy.

Friday at La Salle University, though, you had better believe the smile gracing Owsiany's countenance was one of the broadest he's ever worn near a swimming pool.

Owsiany shattered just about every record out there with his score of 573.85 points, downing the meet, Kirk Natatorium and county records at the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships.

The county record of 512.85, owned since 2007 by Ridley's Ian Jevnick, was blown away. The 13-year-old pool record of 543.50 went comfortably by the wayside, and Owsiany also dashed the meet record set in 2007 by Germantown Academy's Tom Henniger (568.55).

Oh yeah, and he won the meet for the fourth straight year, a title he's had a stranglehold on since eighth grade.

"Once I got to the meet, I knew it was game time," the All-Delco said. "And I was just like, I got to go, I got to go. I think that was the best meet I ever had. ... It's such an honor. It's unbelievable. I'm so happy."

The performance wasn't bad for a meet he entered with more nerves than usual. The nexus of that angst was in the three two-and-a-half dives in his program, which he and EA diving coach Tom Novak strategically placed near the beginning.

The dives, which rely on lots of lift off the board, a point of technique that may be a soft spot in his otherwise flawless and meticulous repertoire, were ones Owsiany was eager to get out of the way early. Novak, however, knew that if he executed them well, they'd set him up for success throughout the program.

"It's all about the starts," Owsiany said of the two-and-a-halfs. "They're hard dives. They really make me nervous sometimes in meets. But I just have to get them off the board. I did them in my first round just to get them over with."

Notre Dame’s Erica Westlake checks her time in the 50 freestyle Friday.
Notre Dame's Erica Westlake checks her time in the 50 freestyle Friday. (Eric Hartline)

Owsiany didn't need other reasons to smile, but he got one with his younger brother Andrew finishing third in 493.90. Among his program was a superbly executed twister, one you'd have no idea he was debuting competitively. The reward was a high five from his big bro as he climbed out of the diving well.

"I'm so happy for him," Josh said. "He did a new dive actually, the first time in competition his back two and a half twister. I'm so proud of him."

•••

Maddie Aguirre is not easily intimidated. For evidence, see the swim turned in by the Agnes Irwin seventh-grader (yes, seventh-grader) Friday night.

After a 200 individual medley time of 2:19.74 in prelims, Aguirre went a stunning five seconds faster in 2:14.55 in finals to move up to second in the C final and 14th overall.

Aguirre admitted that her earlier swim was influenced by some jet lag after a family trip overseas last week, which also interrupted her training schedule. It was also slower than her seed time of 2:17.

But like age, none of that mattered to Aguirre.

"It doesn't matter what age you are up there," she said. "It's just all about technique and speed and stuff like that."

•••

Kaitlin Perni had a good thing going at Easterns last year, finishing eighth in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. That got a little boring for the Notre Dame sophomore, though.

"I wanted to change it up," Perni said. "I thought, it's my sophomore year, let's do something different. I feel like I'm not just a freestyle, and maybe I would try the IM."

Haverford School’s Ben Nelligan swims in the 100 butterfly at Easterns Friday.
Haverford School's Ben Nelligan swims in the 100 butterfly at Easterns Friday. (Eric Hartline)

Her foray out of the sprints resulted in a time of 2:08.88, easily swimming away from the field to win the B final and take seventh overall.

It clicked for Perni at the National Catholic meet several weeks back, when she turned in a time of 2:09, that this may be a viable course of action to complement her 100 free swim Saturday. Though she doesn't rule out revisiting the 50 in the future, she's happy to have options and enjoys the room for error and recovery that the 50 simply doesn't allow. She also glad she performed well enough not to regret the decision.

"I was kind of scared that I'd regret it," Perni said. "But I went out in prelims and my goal was to make the B final, and I did. So I was like, 'This is going to be OK.'"

•••

The theme for Haverford School Friday was incremental improvement. In finals, the Fords got big boosts with swimmers jumping up from their seeding to grab what are essentially bonus points.

Matt Haigh did it in the 200 free, going from the sixth seed to fifth in 1:42.26. Dan McGrath tied for fifth in the 50 at 21.48 after being seeded sixth. Eighth-grade sensation Alex Boratto went from fourth in the C final of the 100 fly to sixth in a very fast 53.42. And the 200 free relay that missed the A final by .01 seconds in the morning dodged a bullet by clinging to seventh place and the fastest time in the B final.

Thanks to some vital diving points via Anthony Cirelli (eight), Will Pierce (ninth) and Alex Tyminski (12th), the Fords sit fifth in the team standings and very much in the conversation to finish as high as third.